Kiwi Amateur Lee toasts Classic victory

Only a few days before Tiger Woods is scheduled to make his long-awaited comeback, he is reminded of the emerging talent who want to overthrow him as the king of golf.

Foremost in doing the reminding is Danny Lee, an 18-year-old amateur from New Zealand who has claimed victory in the Johnnie Walker Classic, one of the bigger tournaments outside Europe and sactioned by the European Tour and Asian Tour.

Lee, whose ambition is to be “the next Tiger Woods”, birdied the final two holes at the Vines Resort in Perth, Australia to shoot 67 for a total of 17-under 271. That was one stroke ahead of a Japan’s Hiroyuki Fujita, Ross McGowan, of England and Chile’s Felipe Aguilar.

Korea-born Lee’s name is now etched on the trophy alongside some of the biggest names in golf, including Woods, Nick Faldo, Greg Norman and Ernie Els. Lee said in an Asian Tour article:

“It feels like I’m in a dream and I hope nobody wakes me up. I have won a couple of amateur tournaments before, but this is a different feeling than that. This is a pro event, and all I wanted to do here was to make the cut and get into the top-20. That was my goal and today I played extremely well and I won.”

At the age of 18 years and 213 days, Lee becomes the youngest winner on the European Tour and the fifth-youngest winner on the Asian Tour. He is the second amateur to win a professional tournament in Europe and fourth in Asia.

World number one Woods is due to return to action at this week’s Accenture World Match Play tournament after being out of the game for eight months because of injuries.

Another golfer telling Tiger that he is still around is Phil Mickelson. Though not part of the young brigade, Lefty showed he can win tournaments, claiming the Northern Trust Open title on the US PGA Tour.

Three-time major winner Mickelson birdied the 16th and 17th holes to recover from a mini-slump and shoot one-over 72 in the final round in Los Angeles.

Although he squandered what had once been a five-stroke lead, his closing round was good enough for a 15-under total of 269 and a one-shot victory over Steve Stricker, who scored 67 on Sunday.

KJ Choi, Andres Romero and Fred Couples shared third place on 271. For Mickelson, it was his first victory since his triumph at the Colonial last year.

In the first round, Mickelson had scored a bogey-free 63, which equals the best first round in the history of the tournament. Ireland’s Padraig Harrington, Michael Allen and Lanny Wadkins had also previously scored 63s at the Riviera Country Club.

2 Responses to “Kiwi Amateur Lee toasts Classic victory”

  1. WALTER says:

    Hi Andy,

    Thank you for recognising Danny Lee. I am sure that the rest of New Zealand is waiting for the Masters with baited breath.

    I have been a great supporter of Tiger but he does have a weakness against a Kiwi refering to Michael Campbell in the 2007 American Open.

    It is a pity that two golfers that I will have a lot of backing for are playing each other in the first round. Let us hope to see them again in the final round. We could call it the “TIGIWI” final. I say to the both of them, “Give us what we want fellas.”


    Walter Booth.

  2. Roger garrett says:


    We in New Zealand are very proud of our Danny, who has been brought up in NZ and coached here. You say in your article that he is only the second amateur to win on the European tour, and so have several other commentators, but none have mentioned whom the other one was. Could you please inform me.

    Roger Garrett

    Andy’s Reply:

    Dear Roger,

    You don’t have to go back too far to find the first amateur winner on the European Tour. It was Spain’s Pablo Martin, who won the Estoril de Open Portugal (Portugal Open) as a 20-year-old in April, 2007.

    He turned professional in June that same year and was hoping to make a mark on the PGA Tour by relying on exemptions.



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